BYU quarterback Jaren Hall (3) hands off to running back Lopini Katoa during the first half of the team’s NCAA college football game against Arizona on Saturday, Sept. 4, 2021, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/David Becker)
LAS VEGAS (AP) — Quarterback Jaren Hall accumulated 243 total yards and two touchdowns as BYU defeated Arizona 24-16 at Allegiant Stadium on Saturday night in the season opener for both teams.
Hall, the redshirt sophomore from Spanish Fork, Utah, made his third career start and first in the post-Zach Wilson era. Hall went 18-of-28 passing for 198 yards with two touchdowns for the Cougars, who won have won 12 of their last 13 games.
Hall also added one catch for nine yards and 36 yards on the ground, including a 39-yard dash down the left sideline that set up his second touchdown pass.
BYU’s Neil Pau’u caught eight passes for 126 yards and both of Hall’s touchdown passes.
Arizona, which played its first nonconference game in 721 days, lost its 13th consecutive game dating to 2019. It was also the debut for Wildcats coach Jedd Fisch, the former quarterbacks coach for the New England Patriots. Fisch replaced Kevin Sumlin, who went 0-5 in 2020.
Gunner Cruz was 34-for-45 passing for 336 yards with a touchdown and an interception as the Arizona starter. Cruz split time with Will Plummer, who amassed only nine yards passing on three attempts before Cruz finished the game.
BYU: Even as the designated road team, the BYU contingent traveled well to Allegiant Stadium. The Cougars benefited greatly from a heavy blue-clad crowd after a slow start in the first quarter, when they had just 69 yards of offense.
Arizona: Despite going 2 for 2 on fourth down in the first half, the Wildcats only mustered three points. Lucas Havrisik missed two of three field goals, a 31-yard attempt in the second quarter and a 44-yarder in the third.
Cornerback Keenan Ellis was carted off the field after sustaining an apparent head injury with 10:15 remaining in the first quarter. Ellis made a play on Arizona receiver Michael Wiley on third-and-5 when his head collided against Wiley’s back. Ellis, a junior, was transported to University Medical Center — Las Vegas’ only Level I trauma center since 1992 — for further evaluation.
BYU plays at home against rival and 24th-ranked Utah.
Arizona returns to Tucson to face San Diego State on Saturday.